Two bedroom 6 berth chalet in Cornwall near Padstow more info...
The thatched cottages, stone churches and green fields of South West England, perhaps best known for the counties of Devon and Cornwall, form one of the country's prettiest backdrops.. The majestic coastline, quaint towns and fascinating history add to the charm, making this region one of England's top areas for visitors.
The South West is full of interesting sites, and a proper visit deserves far more time than the long weekend many people allot. Stonehenge, an ancient circle of stones near the busy town of Salisbury, is one of the world's most famous and mysterious places. Prehistorical buffs will also want to visit Avebury, a ceremonial site dating from 3500 BC. Romans left their mark on Bath, a town that has always been known for its hot springs. Nowadays though, the beautiful Georgian architecture here attracts most visitors. Made with honey-colored stones, the buildings are beautiful in the sunlight. Those with a penchant for medieval history will enjoy following in the footsteps of King Arthur; supposedly he was born in Tintagel and was buried in Glastonbury.
Cathedrals and churches abound. The lovely cathedral in Salisbury is one of the best known, but other places of worship worth visiting are the cathedral of Exeter, boasting two huge 11th-century towers, and the cathedral of Wells, considered by many to be England's most beautiful.
The coast presents a whole new face of the region. Though towns fill up in summer, it's hard to steal the charm of places like St. Ives, which has a pretty harbour and a good selection of cultural events and activities. Exter is not as quaint but offers more activity, while Dorset (the setting of many of Thomas Hardy's novels) has a breathtakingly beautiful coast. The beaches here, considered England's best, attract families, sunbathers and watersports enthusiasts (see Activities).
If all that rural activity proves to quiet, head to Bristol, the region's largest town. Renovation and reconstruction efforts have been slowly transforming the face of this city, and it's gaining a reputation for being one of England's more hip places to hang out. The city centre is worth a stroll, and a ferry ride out to the Floating Harbour can be fun too.
The sunniest region of England, the southern coast tends to enjoy a milder climate than the rest of the country. Rainfall in Summer is comparatively low, and even in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn temperatures can stay pleasantly warm. Winter, as in the rest of the UK, is a cool and damp affair, though even then the lush green countryside is worth a visit.
The largish airports in Bristol and Exeter link the South West with London, other domestic airports and a few European destinations. Smaller airports are scattered around and sometimes offer viable travel options; there are daily flights from London Gatwick to the Newquay Cornwall airport, for example.
Once you're here, having a private car is a big advantage in the rural west, especially if you'd like to explore the countryside and go beyond the major tourist centers. If you don't want to drive or rent a car, buses are a reliable way to move between larger towns, and rail lines link Bristol, Bath, Salisbury and Exeter.
Walking is one of the most popular activities, and the "South West Coast Path," a walking trail stretching for 613 miles down the coast, is one of the best places for a stroll. Passing small villages, pristine beaches and nearly virgin coastline, the path is one of the UK's longest. The Ridgeway, another famous trail, follows historic roads down into the Thames Valley. Walkers will also enjoy the area's two national parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor.
Biking is popular as well. The hilly but often quiet roads are ideal for road cycling, and many large towns offer bike hires. Mountain biking in the far western part of the region is a bit more strenuous but gives the opportunity to explore a beautiful part of the country.
Beach fans will love the coast here. Surfing conditions are excellent, and the town of Newquay on the Cornish coast is recognized far and wide as the best spot to catch a wave. Windsurfing, diving and sailing are widely available along the coast too. Of course, those who just want to relax on the sand will have no problem finding an ideal spot.
Be sure to save time to shop for antiques or crafts and to visit the numerous historic sites (see above).